After two years of twists and turns, Freddie Freeman is right where he belongs

  • Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
  • Analyst/reporter ESPN television
  • Author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”

HOUSTON — That Freddie Freeman — a man known for his free-flowing emotions — was perfectly suited for a World Series celebration might have been the only predictable element of the Atlanta Braves’ entire 2021 season. When Freeman blasted a double in the fifth inning of Game 6 Tuesday night, he happily raised a fist in the direction of his family seated in the ballpark. When he homered later, he paused between third and home and invented a new kind of funky wave to throw towards his teammates.

And when Dansby Swanson’s throw sunk into his mitt to clinch the Braves’ first championship in 26 years, Atlanta’s first baseman raised two hands over his head and showed off every bicuspid and molar he possesses. But then Freeman, long known in Atlanta as Freddie the Hugger, really cut loose, embracing his teammates and laughing, a World Series-winning baseball stuffed in his back right pocket.

When a well-wisher congratulated him on the championship shortly afterward, his eyes glistened with tears. “Those are the greatest words you could say,” he responded with a grin.

The last 20 months have been filled with tears — the full range. Tears of sorrow and of fear; of elation and joy. Two pregnancies, one planned with a surrogate and one a happy surprise for Freddie and his wife, Chelsea Freeman. A frightening bout with COVID that drove his temperature up to 104.5 degrees and drove him down to his knees in prayer. A National League MVP Award. The birth of two sons, 46 days apart.

Throughout much of those 20 months, Freeman’s looming free agency has also been top of mind — not for him, but for the reporters asking him about it throughout spring training and the early season.

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